“Stay clear of Commander’s stall while that

Mare has her run of the barn,” John says

After I ask why I heard the paint stallion

Shrieking clear across the yard after lunch.

A second later she prances in from her run,

Mane-stunting, herself a mountain engorged,

Quick four-beat hoofsteps and bowed-up, ash-gold

Tail-swish billowing urgent, estrous news.

He dashes in from his run, wide-eyed, nostril

Velvet grasping at her every notion,

Ears piqued and radiating bloodheat like

Corona leaping from his forehead blaze.

She pisses firehose dash-dot on his stall like

Code for endless love, and he comes undone

With sexpain’s need all rearing, pacing, kicking

Out at every human trinket in his way.

Without rival atop this ranch’s herd,

Still he must declare. Open his throat latch,

Spill out his kind’s entire phrasebook all

At once, show every nervous despot’s order full

Of needy begging for consent. John says soon

Their moods might mean we’ll let them have at it.

But now they’re courting, so they’ll trot back

Into their runs, another lap, more sun,

As often as their oldest customs demand.